If all goes according to plan, the agriculture and livestock sector could contribute about eight per cent annually to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. This is if the revised Food and Nutrition Security Policy is implemented in the 13th Five-Year Plan. Currently, the sector contributes only about three per cent to the GDP growth rate. In line with this, a national-level stakeholder consultation meeting was held yesterday in the capital.
Agriculture in Bhutan is predominately subsistence according to the census report conducted by the Renewable Natural Resources or RNR in 2019.
On the other hand, the demand for food in the country is expected to increase significantly and the country’s population to cross over 800,000 in less than a decade.
Meanwhile, the country’s food imports still greatly exceed exports. In 2021, the import of agricultural commodities was thrice the export value and amounted to over Nu 10bn according to the Bhutan Trade Statistics.
The revised Food and Nutrition Security Policy aims to address all these.
The goal of the new policy is not only to make sure all Bhutanese households are food secured, but also to improve the incomes of rural and farming communities and double the country’s exports in less than a decade.
“The major area of the consultation focused on how we want to move from subsistence farming to commercial farming. The Ministry’s aim and vision are also now, we have been in this mode of subsistence farming for almost more than two or three decades. Now, if we have to transform, I think we have to transform right from the policy perspective,” said Karma Tshering, Chief Planning Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.
The revised policy consists of nine strategic policy interventions to achieve the goals.
Some of the strategies include disaster-resilient and climate-smart farming, productive use of agricultural land, promoting organic farming, increasing commercialisation and strengthening marketing.
The one-day meeting saw participants from different sectors including the private sector, NGOs, health and livestock, and financial institutions.
“We feel that is the move because we are to go for the commercial mode and income generation, one of the major players in the private sector and we want to make it very clear how we want to support the private sector and how we can facilitate the private sector into the agriculture sector to do agriculture, livestock businesses,” added Karma Tshering.
The ministry is planning to submit the draft policy to the cabinet by the end of this month.
Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen
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